Image shown: The Claddagh Rogues. Photo credit: Barbara Flynn.

West Cork Feelgood Festival is bringing all the feels in 2021. Taking place each year to coincide with World Mental Health day on 10 October, this year’s edition includes music with Luka Bloom, Lisa O’Neill and Donal Dineen, film screenings, outdoor and nature-themed events, and a variety of creative and wellbeing workshops. 

The 2021 festival is running from 7-13 October with a mixture of limited capacity in-person events and online offerings. The festival is organised by 49 North Street in Skibbereen, The Wellbeing Network, West Cork, and Mental Health Engagement, Cork Kerry HSE, working in partnership with community groups and organisations.

If social distancing has taught us anything, it’s how important and deeply needed our connection to each other is. What better way to do this than through engagement in creative activity?‘ – Kevin O’Shanahan, Nurse Specialist in Recovery and the Arts

West Cork Feelgood Festival promotes and celebrates community wellbeing while linking with many ongoing health and wellbeing resources across West Cork. Established in 2015, the festival is all about community, connection, engagement, slowing down, having fun and feeling good. The 2021 festival has been made possible with the support of an Arts Council Capacity Building award to MusicAlive, an arts and health organisation that co-produces arts events at 49 North Street.

MusicAlive has teamed up with Levis Corner House in Ballydehob for various discussions and live gigs with an exceptional line up including Luka Bloom, Donal Dineen and Lisa O’Neill. Skibbereen Family Resource Centre and 49 North Street will also be hosting free events with creative writing, mindfulness, singing, dancing, cooking, music, meditation, and more to choose from.

Programme highlights 

Music is a major thread running through the festival and so is nature. Sometimes they blend seamlessly. Luka Bloom, beloved singer-songwriter and younger brother to Christy Moore, has a song called My Old Friend the Oak Tree. It is dedicated to a 800-year old oak in Birr, County Offaly, that he has been visiting for almost a quarter of a century. He calls it, ‘A song of friendship … An unusual manifestation of an actual friendship in my life with a non-human being.’ An evening of story and song with Luka Bloom will take place at Levis Corner House in Ballydehob on Sunday 10 October at 8 PM, outdoors. Capacity is limited; booking via Levis Corner House.

In partnership with MusicAlive, 49 North Street has always promoted the art of music that runs through all cultures, all human lives. The Benign & Beautiful publication showcases Aoise Tutty Jackson’s photographs of vibrant India and proverbs in Irish and English that reveal some secrets to leading a happy life, assembled by Mahendra Garg. A second volume, featuring the imagery of photographers Redmond O’ Regan and Richard Winfield, will be presented in Levis on the afternoon of 10 October by poet and musician Pól O Colmáin.

A musical powerhouse that is equally connected to 49 North Street is The Claddagh Rogues, a band that grew out of a music collective at the Simon Community (Cork) in 2007. James O’Flynn, frontman, lead singer, and one of the songwriters, has come out the other side of addiction and homelessness. Transitioning from despair, isolation, and rejection to hope, connection is what his music is about, showing that it can be done, opening up conversations.

The Claddagh Rogues will play Levis on Saturday 9 October at 3 PM . That afternoon there will be a film screening and panel discussion exploring homelessness, mental health, and the prison system, with James O’ Flynn reflecting on his life (prior booking via is essential). On Friday 8 October (3-5 PM) The Claddagh Rogues will perform at 49 North Street during the launch of Beyond the Village (a project led by visual artists Sarah Ruttle and Rebecca Keyser) and the Out of the Blue / Recovery Stories project, in association with Open Dialogue.

49 is also home to The Happiness Ensemble, the brainchild of Peter Fitzpatrick. Seeking an alternative way to recover from depression and anxiety, he rediscovered his love of music and voice. Knowing other music lovers suffered the same fate, Peter created The Happiness Ensemble. On Wednesday 13 October  (1-3 PM), No. 49 will host Éiri’s Ital: A positive music & food sharing event with MusicAlive and The Happiness Ensemble.

All events will be delivered in line with current public health guidelines and tickets must be booked in advance, due to limited capacity.

View the full programme:

Background: Connecting West Cork to Wellbeing

Almost nine years ago the wellness bus rolled through the towns and villages of West Cork as part of an initiative to help people recover outside traditional mental health services. The bus was about promoting social inclusion and giving advice on services available across the community that promote physical, mental and social wellbeing.

This initiative became The Wellbeing Network and has kept its original spirit, offering the West Cork community a preventative approach to mental health and providing resources on their own doorstep — access to non-clinical and medical supports, and information about self-care.

During the difficult times that Covid-19 brought to our community, with a heightened sense of isolation, the effort has been directed at offering people a way to make connections and to help them to develop their coping skills. WBN put together a series of online workshops to help people to Keep Well through creativity, healthy eating and mindfulness. For individuals and families finding it difficult to access effective support, the WBN website has been signposting people to services and resources.

For a number of years WBN has been joining efforts with 49 North Street to host the West Cork Feelgood Festival to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October. The collaboration with 49 North Street has been an important partnership. The space located in Skibbereen explores ways of improving mental health and wellbeing, and offers a place where people can come and confidentially share practical advice on living through difficult times. It has become an important asset in the West Cork community.


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